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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 16, 2015

Pope’s Morning Homily: Don’t Auction Off Your Identity

At Casa Santa Marta, Warns Against Mentality of ‘Everyone Else Does It, Why Shouldn’t I?’

Pope Francis today drew from the First Book of Maccabees to warn against worldliness and apostasy, saying that a Christian musn’t put his identity up for auction, or do things just because everyone else is doing it. 

The Pope made this reflection during his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, according to Vatican Radio.

The First Reading of today’s Mass speaks of King Antiochus Epiphanes, referring to him as a “sinful offshoot” or a root of evil, who imposes pagan customs on the Chosen People.

Pope Francis commented that, “the image of the root is under the ground.” The “phenomenology of the root” is this: “What is not seen does not seem to do any harm, but then it grows and shows its true nature.”

The Holy Father noted that it was a “rational root,” pushing the Israelites to ally with neighboring nations for protection. 

“Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us,” the reading says.

The Pope explained this reading with three words: “Worldliness, apostasy, persecution.”

Worldliness in life is to do what the world does. It’s saying: “We put up for auction our identity card; we are equal to everyone. ” Thus, as the reading recounts, many Jews “disowned the faith and ‘abandoned the holy covenant.'” And what “seemed so rational – ‘we are like everyone else, we are normal’ – became their destruction.”

“Then the king recommended that his whole kingdom should be one people – the one thought; worldliness – and each abandoned their own customs. All peoples adapted themselves to the orders of the king; also many Jews accepted his worship: they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. Apostasy. That is, worldliness that leads you to one unique thought, and to apostasy. No differences are permitted: all are equal. And in the history of the Church, the history we have seen, I think of a case, where religious feasts were renamed – the birth of the Lord has another name – in order to erase its identity.”

In Israel the books of the law were burned “and if someone obeyed the law, the judgment of the king condemned him to death.” That’s “persecution,” initiated by a “root of bitterness,” Francis said.

“I have  always been struck,” the Pope remarked, “that the Lord, at the Last Supper, in that long prayer, praying for unity [asks] the Father that he would deliver them from every spirit of the world, from all worldliness, because worldliness destroys identity; worldliness leads to the single thought.”

“It starts from a root, but it is small, and ends up an abomination of desolation, in persecution. This is the deception of worldliness, and why Jesus asked the Father, at that Supper: ‘Father, I do not ask you to remove them from the world, but keep them from the world,’ this mentality, this humanism, which is to take the place of the true man, Jesus Christ, that comes to take away the Christian identity and brings us to the single thought: ‘They all do it, why not us?’ This, in these times, should make us think: what is my identity? Is it Christian or worldly? Or do I say to myself, ‘Christian because I was baptized as a child or was born in a Christian country, where everyone is Christian?’ Worldliness that comes slowly, it grows, it justifies itself and infects: it grows like the root, it defends itself – ‘but, we do as others do, we are not so different’ – always looking for a justification, and eventually it becomes contagious, and many evils come from there.”

“The liturgy, in these last days of the liturgical year,” said the Pope, exhorts us to beware of “poisonous roots” that “lead away from the Lord.”

“And we pray to the Lord for the Church, that the Lord will guard it from all forms of worldliness. That the Church will always have the identity given to it by Jesus Christ; that we will all have the identity that we received in baptism. May the Lord give us the grace to maintain and preserve our Christian identity against the spirit of worldliness that always grows, justifies itself and is contagious. “

Readings provided by the US bishops’ conference:

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 497

Reading 1 1 MC 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63

[From the descendants of Alexander’s officers] there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes,
son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome.
He became king in the year one hundred and thirty seven
of the kingdom of the Greeks.

In those days there appeared in Israel
men who were breakers of the law,
and they seduced many people, saying:
“Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us;
since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.”
The proposal was agreeable;
some from among the people promptly went to the king,
and he authorized them to introduce the way of living
of the Gentiles.
Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem
according to the Gentile custom.
They covered over the mark of their circumcision
and abandoned the holy covenant;
they allied themselves with the Gentiles
and sold themselves to wrongdoing.

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
each abandoning his particular customs.
All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion;
they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.

On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-five,
the king erected the horrible abomination
upon the altar of burnt offerings
and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.
Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt.
Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant,
and whoever observed the law,
was condemned to death by royal decree.
But many in Israel were determined
and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;
they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food
or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.
Terrible affliction was upon Israel.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158

R. (see 88) Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Indignation seizes me because of the wicked
who forsake your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Though the snares of the wicked are twined about me,
your law I have not forgotten.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may keep your precepts.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
I am attacked by malicious persecutors
who are far from your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Far from sinners is salvation,
because they seek not your statutes.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
I beheld the apostates with loathing,
because they kept not to your promise.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.

Alleluia JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 18:35-43

As Jesus approached Jericho
a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging,
and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
They told him,
“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
The people walking in front rebuked him,
telling him to be silent,
but he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me!”
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him;
and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
He immediately received his sight
and followed him, giving glory to God.
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
 

Pope’s Visit to Lutheran Community in Rome

When I see the Lord as a servant that serves, I like to ask Him to be the servant of unity, that He help us to walk together”

On Sunday, Pope Francis went to visit the Lutheran Evangelical Community of Rome at the Christuskirche on via Sicilia.

The meeting began with the greeting of Pastor Jens-Martin Kruse, then the Pope spoke with three members of the Community – a child and two women – answering their questions.

The evening prayer was followed by the reading of a Gospel passage according to Matthew (25:31-46), at the end of which the Pope delivered a homily.

Here is a translation of the transcription of Pope Francis’ conversation with members of the Lutheran Evangelical Community and the transcription of the homily that the Holy Father ad-libbed, as well as the text prepared for the visit.

The Pope’s Conversation with Members of the Community

  1. My name is Julius. I am nine years old and I like very much to take part in the children’s worship in this community. I am fascinated by the stories of Jesus and I also like the way He behaves. My question is: What do you like most about being Pope?

The answer is simple. What I like … If I ask you what do you like most about the food, you will say the cake, the sweet! O, no? But it’s necessary to eat everything. Sincerely, what I like is to be a parish priest, to be a Pastor. I don’t like doing office work. Such work doesn’t please me. I don’t like to do protocol interviews – this one isn’t protocol, it’s a family ! – but I must do so. So, what do I like most? To be a parish priest. There was a time, while I was Rector of the Faculty of Theology, I was parish priest of the parish that is next door to the Faculty, and you know, I liked to teach the catechism to children and on Sundays to say the Mass with children. There were more or less 250 children; it was difficult for all of them to be silent, it was difficult. Conversation with children – this pleases me. You are a boy and, perhaps, you’ll understand me. You are concrete, you do not ask unfounded, theoretical questions: “Why is this so? Why? …?”

See, I like to be a parish priest, doing what the parish priest does. What I like most is to be with children, to talk with them, and one learns so much, one learns so much. I like to be Pope with the style of a parish priest — service. I like it in the sense that it makes me feel good, when I visit the sick, when I speak with people who are somewhat in despair, sad. I like very much to visit prisons, but not to be taken to jail!

Because to speak with prisoners – perhaps you will understand what I’ll say to you – every time I enter a prison, I ask myself: “Why them and not me?” And there I feel the salvation of Jesus Christ, the love of Jesus Christ, for me. Because He it is who has saved me. I’m not less of a sinner than they are, but the Lord took me by the hand. I also felt this. And I am happy when I go to a prison.

To do what a Pope does, to do what a Bishop does, to do what a parish priest does, to do what a Pastor does. If a Pope does not do what a Bishop does, if a Pope does not do what a parish priest does, if he does not do what a Pastor does, he might be a very intelligent person, very important, have much influence in society, but I think – I think! — he’s not happy in his heart. I don’t know if I’ve answered what you wanted to know.

  1. My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many persons of our community, I’m married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We have been living happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And, therefore, it’s quite painful to be divided in the faith and to be unable to take part together in the Lord’s Supper. What can we do on this point to finally attain communion?

Thank you, ma’am. It’s not easy for me to respond to your question about sharing in the Lord’s Supper. especially in the presence of a theologian such as Cardinal Kasper. I’m afraid!

I think the Lord has said it to us, when He gave this mandate: “Do this in memory of me.” And when we share the Lord’s Supper, we recall and imitate, we do the same thing that the Lord Jesus did. And there will be the Lord’s Supper, there will be the last banquet in the New Jerusalem, but it will be the last.

Instead on the journey, I wonder – and I don’t know how to answer, but I make your question my own,  — I wonder: is the sharing of the Lord’s Supper the end of a journey or the viaticum to journey together? I leave the question to the theologians, to those who understand.

It’s true that in a certain sense to share is to say that there are no differences between us, that we have the same doctrine – I stress the word, a word that is difficult to understand – but I wonder: don’t we have the same Baptism? And if we have the same Baptism, we must walk together.

You are also a testimony of a profound journey, because it’s a conjugal journey, in fact, a family journey, of human love and shared faith. We have the same Baptism. When you feel yourself a sinner – I also feel myself very much a sinner – when your husband feels himself a sinner, you go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness; your husband does the same and goes to the priest and asks for absolution. They are remedies to keep Baptism alive. When you pray together, that Baptism grows, it becomes strong; when you teach your children who Jesus is, why Jesus came, what Jesus did for us, do the same, be it in Lutheran language or in Catholic language, but it’s the same.

The question: and the Supper? There are questions to which only if one is sincere with oneself and with the few theological “lights” that I have, the same must be answered, you see to it. “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” said the Lord, “do this in memory of me,” and this is a viaticum that helps us to walk.

I had a great friendship with an Episcopalian Bishop, 48, married, with two children, and he had this anxiety: his wife was Catholic, his children were Catholics, he was a Bishop. On Sundays he accompanied his wife and his children to Mass and then he went to worship with his community. It was a step of participation in the Lord’s Supper. Then he went on, the Lord called him, a righteous man.

I answer your question only with a question: what can I do with my husband so that the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my way? It’s a problem to which each one must respond. But a friend who was a Pastor said to me: “We believe that the Lord is present there. He is present. You believe that the Lord is present. And what is the difference?” Alas, they are explanations, interpretations …” Life is greater than explanations and interpretations. Always make reference to Baptism: “One faith, one Baptism, one Lord,” so Paul says to us, and from there take the consequences. I would never dare to give permission to do this because it’s not my competence. One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go ahead. I don’t dare say more.

  1. My name is Gertrud Wiedmer. I come from Switzerland. I’m the Treasurer of our community and I am involvedd in our project for refugees. It is called “Teddy Bear” and, with it, we support about 80 young mothers and their small children, who have come to Rome from North Africa. We see the misery. We try to be of help, but we also know that the possibilities have a limit. What can we do as Christians so that persons do not become resigned or erect new walls? 

Being Swiss, being Treasurer, you have all the power in hand! A service … The misery. You said this word: misery. There comes to my mind to say two words. The first, the walls. From the first moment man – if we read the Scriptures – has been a great builder of walls, which separate from God. We see this in the first pages of Genesis. And there is a fantasy behind human walls, the fantasy of becoming like God. For me the myth, to say it in technical words, or the account of the Tower of Babel, is in fact the attitude of man and woman who construct walls, because to build a wall is to say: “We are the powerful, you out.” But in this “we are the powerful, you out” is the arrogance of power and the attitude proposed in the first pages of Genesis: “you will be like God” (cf. Genesis 3:5).

To make a wall is to exclude, it’s in this line. The temptation: “If you eat this fruit, you will be like God.” In connection with the Tower of Babel – perhaps you have heard me say this, because I repeat it, but it’s so “plastic” – there is a midrash written more or less in 1200, in the time of Thomas Aquinas, of Maimonides, more or less at that time, by a Jewish Rabbi who explained to his own in the Synagogue the construction of the Tower of Babel, where man’s power made itself felt. It was very difficult, very costly, because the clay had to be molded and water was not always close; find straw, mix it, then cut and have them dry, then have them dried, then bake them in the furnace, and in the end they came out  and the workers took them … If one of these bricks fell it was a disaster because they were a treasure, they were costly, they cost. Instead, if a laborer fell nothing happened!

A wall always excludes,  power is preferred – in this case the power of money because the brick cost, or the tower that they wanted to have reach the sky – and thus humanity always excludes. A wall is a monument to exclusion. In us also, in our interior life, how often riches, vanity, pride become a wall before the Lord, distance us from the Lord. To build walls. For me, the word that comes to me now, somewhat spontaneous, is that of Jesus: what to do not to make walls? Service. Take the part of the last. Wash feet. He gave you the example. Service to others; service to brothers, to sisters, service to the neediest. With this endeavor of supporting the 80 young mothers, you don’t make walls, you do service.

Human egoism wants to defend itself, to defend its power,  its egoism, but in that defense it moves away from the source of richness. In the end, walls are like suicide; they close you. It’s an awful thing to have a closed heart. And today we see it, the drama.

Today my brother Pastor has called Paris: closed hearts. The name of God is also used to close hearts. You were asking me: “We try to help the misery, but we also know that the possibilities have a limit. What can we do as Christians  so that people won’t be resigned or not erect new walls?” Speak clearly, pray – because prayer is strong – and serve. And serve.

One day Mother Teresa of Calcutta was asked a question: “But what is all this effort that you do only to have these people die with dignity who are three, four days from death?” It’s a drop of water in the sea but, after this, the sea is not the same. And, always with service, walls fall by themselves; but our egoism, our desire for power always tries to build them. I don’t know, this is what comes to me to say. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]  

The Holy Father’s Homily

During his life, Jesus made many choices. The one we heard today will be his last choice. Jesus made so many choices: the first disciples, the sick that he healed, the crowd that followed Him … it followed him to listen, because He spoke as one who has authority, not like the Doctors of the Law who showed off; but we can read who these people were two chapters earlier, in Matthew 23.

They saw authenticity in Him, and those people followed Him. Jesus made choices and also corrections, with love. When the disciples made a mistake in the methods: Shall we call fire come down from heaven? …” “But you do not know what your spirit is.” Or when the mother of James and John went to ask the Lord: “Lord, I want to ask you a favor, that in the moment of your Kingdom my two sons be one at your right hand and one on your left …” And He corrected these things: He always guided, accompanied.

But also after the Resurrection, it was so tender to see how Jesus chose the moments, chose the persons, did not frighten. We think of the road to Emmaus, how He accompanies them [the two disciples]. They had to go to Jerusalem but they fled Jerusalem, out of fear, and He goes with them, He accompanies them. And then He makes himself seen; He recovers them. It is a choice of Jesus. And then the great choice that has always moved me, when He prepared the son’s nuptials and says: “But go to the crossroads and bring the blind, the deaf, the lame …” The good and the bad! Jesus always chooses. And then the choice of the lost sheep. He does not make a financial calculation: “But I have 99, I lose one …” No. But the last choice will be the definitive one.

And what are the questions that the Lord will ask us that day: “Did you go to Mass? Did you have a good catechesis?” No, the questions are about the poor, because poverty is at the center of the Gospel. He, being rich, made himself poor to enrich us with His poverty. He does not hold it a privilege to be like God but He annihilated himself, He humbled himself to the end, to death on the Cross (cf. Philippians 2:6-8)

It’s the choice of service. Is Jesus God? It’s true. Is He the Lord? It’s true. But He is the servant, and He makes this choice. You, have you used your life for yourself or to serve? to defend yourself from others with walls or to receive them with love? And this will be Jesus’ last choice. This page of the Gospel tells us so much about the Lord. And I can ask myself the question: but we, Lutherans and Catholics, on what side shall we be, on the right or the left? However, there have been bad times between us … Think of the persecutions … between us! – with the same Baptism!. Think of the many burnt alive. We must ask for forgiveness for this, for the scandal of division, because all, Lutherans and Catholics, are in this choice, not in other choices, but in this choice, the choice of service as He indicated to us being servant, the servant of the Lord.

I like, to end, when I see the Lord as a servant that serves, I like to ask Him to be the servant of unity, that He help us to walk together. Today we prayed together — you pray together, to work together for the poor, for the needy, to love one another together, with the true love of brothers. “But, Father, we are different, because our dogmatic books say one thing and yours say another.” However, one of your great exponents once said that it is the hour of reconciled diversity. Let us ask for this grace today, the grace of this reconciled diversity in the Lord, that is, in the Servant of Yahweh, of that God who came among us to serve and not to be served.

I thank you so much for this fraternal hospitality. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]  

Text Prepared by the Holy Father

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,

Today’s meeting enables us to share a moment of fraternal prayer, and it also gives us the opportunity to reflect on our relations and on the ecumenical situation in general. First of all, we can thank the Lord because we have taken numerous steps towards unity, even if we are aware that the path to travel is still long.

Today the ecumenical movement has become a fundamental element of the life of our communities. For many persons, of different generations, the progress in the ecumenical field has become an object for which it is worthwhile to be committed in a stable way. Many men and women are willing to cooperate to surmount together the divisions still present between us Christians. At the local, regional and global level, a very live ecumenism is being felt. Also outside of our communities, the men and women of today are searching for a faith lived in an authentic way. And this search is also the principal reason for the ecumenical progress.

An ecumenism that wishes to have a future cannot but begin from the concerns and problems of the man of today. In the first place, it is about recognizing ourselves mutually as communities of believers that seek the Kingdom of God and His justice, knowing well that in this way we will receive all the rest (cf. Matthew 6:33). In this common journey we can learn from one another, supporting one another, encouraging each other and experiencing the gifts of a lived faith as richness and source of strength.

The Gospel we heard proposed to us the parable of the Last Judgment (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). It reminds us that we will be, rather, we are judged on the basis of our concrete closeness to a brother in his real situation, in his condition.  This presupposes a capacity for attention, compassion, sharing and service.

It is a way of being Church, as it is presented by Vatican Council II in the initial words of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. “The joys and the hopes, the sadness and the anxieties of the men of today, of the poor especially and of all those that suffer, are also the joys and hopes, the sadness and the anxieties of the disciples of Christ (n. 1). This is also the vocation and the ecumenical mission of Catholics and Lutherans.  And of all Christians: a common commitment in the service of charity, especially to the littlest and the poorest, renders credible our belonging to Christ. Otherwise it remains compromised by divisions and conflicts between the Churches and between believers. We can assume together the joy and the effort of the diakonia of charity in greater ecumenical cooperation. We can do so with the most straitened children and elderly, with refugees, with all those in need of care and support.

Another very important aspect for our journey of unity is to rediscover all the richness of common prayer, of liturgical texts and of the various forms of worship — the ecumenical celebrations of the Word, as for instance the ecumenical Liturgy of the Hours. Belonging specifically to the ambit of spiritual ecumenism is the common reading of the Bible.  And I recall in particular the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Day of Ecumenical Prayer for the Care of Creation, on September 1 of every year, and other moments, which your community already organizes with commitment together with different ecumenical partners.

Moreover, illumined by our common Baptism, we Lutherans and Catholics are called to continue with the theological dialogue. After 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, the efforts made show that all that unites us is already much more than what still divides us. We are continually seeking a more profound knowledge of the divine truth. The experience of the last decades shows us that we must persevere in our efforts, to discover together new aspects of divine revelation and to give witness to it together, in keeping with the Lord’s will. With such confidence in the dialogue we will be able to reflect further, in particular, on the subjects of the Church, the Eucharist and the Ministry.

It also seems essential to me that the Catholic Church also carry forward courageously the careful and honest re-evaluation of the intentions of the Reformation and of the figure of Martin Luther, in the sense of an “Ecclesia semper reformanda,” in the great track traced by the Councils, as well as by men and women animated by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit. The recent document of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission for Unity, “From Conflict to Communion – Joint Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation in the Year 2017,” has addressed and carried out this reflection in promising way.

Therefore, the ecumenism between Catholics and Lutherans, which is a fundamental condition for a convincing witness of our faith in Christ in face of the men of our time, must be founded on these pillars: common prayer, sharing with the poor and the theological dialogue.

The Jubilee of Mercy will begin shortly. I invite you to accompany us in this journey, in ecumenical communion, at Rome and in all the Churches and local communities, so that it can be for all a moment of rediscovery of the mercy of God and of the beauty of love for brethren.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in His peace.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

Ratzinger Prize Recognizes Lebanese, Brazilian Scholars

Nabil el-Khoury Translated Ratzinger’s Works to Arabic

The Ratzinger Prize this year recognizes a Lebanese scholar who translated Joseph Ratzinter’s complete works into Arabic, and a Brazilian theologian who twice served on the International Theological Commission.

At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the “Ratzinger Prize”, instituted by the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI”, to be awarded on 21 November to Professor Nabil el-Khoury, Lebanon, and Fr. Mario de Franca Miranda, S.J., Brazil. The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., member of the Foundation’s Scientific Committee, Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, president of the Foundation, and Professor Pietro Luca Azzaro, executive secretary.

Nabil el-Khoury is professor of philosophy and comparative literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut, where he has taught since 1977, and at the University of Tubingen, Germany. He is the translator into Arabic of the Opera omnia of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI. He has held courses at the Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, the Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, the Johannes Gutenburg University of Mainz, and the University of Freiburg in Germany, and the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Fr. Mario de Franca Miranda, S.J. began teaching in the theological faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) in Rio de Janeiro in 1974, and served as ordinary professor of systematic theology and subsequently in the Jesuit faculty of theology in Belo Horizonte, where in 1990 he was appointed as academic rector. He returned to the PUC in 1993, where he served as dean of the faculty from 2001 to 2003. In recent years he has devoted himself to ecclesiological studies. He has given courses in various dioceses throughout Brazil, and has collaborated extensively with the Conference of Brazilian Bishops. He has also served as a member of the International Theological Commission in the Vatican during two periods between 1992 and 2003, under the direction of the then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In his discourse, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., emphasised that with its decision this year, the Foundation continues to broaden its horizons. “Indeed, from the beginning the Ratzinger Prizes have been granted to theologians of various nationalities: Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Poland and the United States, and by virtue of the ecumenical spirit that inspires the Foundation, this important award has also been given to some representatives of other Christian confessions. This year both prizewinners are Catholics, but neither of them belongs to the so-called ‘Western world’. … With these two figures, the list of theologians who have deservedly received the Ratzinger Prizes is further enriched not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively.”

Vatican Secretary of State: We Need an ‘Offensive of Mercy’

Says Pope’s Schedule Won’t Change in Face of Terrorism Threat

The Pope’s secretary of state says it is time for an “offensive of mercy” since the world is so torn by violence.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said this in an interview with the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, translated and reported by Vatican Radio.

“It is understandable that after the attacks there are feelings of revenge,” he said, “but we must fight against this urge. The Pope wants the Jubilee [of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8] to help people see eye-to-eye, understand one another, and overcome hatred. After these attacks, this goal is strengthened. We receive the mercy of God to adopt this attitude toward others.”

Cardinal Parolin said that Muslims can also be involved in the jubilee. “The Merciful is also the most beautiful name of God for Muslims, who could be involved in this holy year, as the Holy Father desires.”

The secretary of state acknowledged that it will take time to recover from the shock of the terrorist attacks. 

“In reaction, what is needed is a general mobilization of France, of Europe, and of the whole world,” he said. “A mobilization of all means of security, of police forces, and of information, to root out this evil of terrorism.”

But beyond the practical response, he said, there needs to be a spiritual one: “a mobilization which would involve all spiritual resources to provide a positive response to evil. That passes through education to the refutation of hatred, giving responses to the young people who leave for jihad. There is a need to convoke all the actors, political and religious, national and international. There is a great need to combat this together. Without this union, this difficult battle will not be won. And it is necessary to involve the Muslim community; they must be part of the solution.”

When asked if the Holy Father still upholds his words from August of 2014 that it is licit to stop an unjust aggressor, Cardinal Parolin said, “Yes, because blind violence is intolerable, whatever its origin may be” and explained that the Pope’s statement was in line with the Catechism.

The cardinal secretary of state also admitted that even the Vatican could be vulnerable to terrorism.

“What happened in France shows, in an even more powerful way, that no one is excluded from terrorism,” he said. “The Vatican could be a target because of its religious significance. We can augment the level of security measures in the Vatican and its surroundings, but they cannot paralyze us with fear. Therefore, nothing will be changed in the Pope’s schedule.”

More of the interview can be read at Vatican Radio: http://www.news.va/en/news/offensive-of-mercy-cardinal-parolin-on-paris-attac

Pope Francis: A Pope Who Sees a WWIII and Pleas for It to Stop

A Look at How the Holy Father Has Referred to Global Violence as a ‘Third World War Fought Piecemeal’

As the world reeled from the news of the terrorist attacks in France on Friday night, Pope Francis’ remark on Saturday that the violence is part of a World War III made international headlines

His remark, made in a telephone interview on Saturday with the Italian episcopal conference’s official television network, TV2000, was a response to a question about if these terrorist attacks could be considered part of the “piecemeal Third World War” the Holy Father has mentioned many times before.

Pope Francis said “this is a piece of it,” adding “there is no religious or human justification for it.”

This evaluation of the violence in the world as a Third World War being fought piecemeal is clearly one that speaks to the Pope, as he’s made this remark with a certain frequency.

In August of 2014, for example, on his return from South Korea, a journalist asked the Pope about his meeting that day with a group of survivors who were “comfort women” — women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.

“Today we are in a world at war, everywhere,” the Pope responded “Someone  said to me, ‘Father do you know that we are in the Third World War, but bit by bit.’ He understood! It’s a world at war in which these cruelties are done.”

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, that same month spoke in an interview with ZENIT about the Pope using the same expression to refer to the Middle East.

Archbishop Tomasi said that with this phrase, “the Holy Father has caught the imagination of the world.” 

The expression “forces us to reflect on the many conflicts around the world,” he added, “from the Central African Republic, Libya, Congo to Syria and Northern Iraq, just to mention a few. This explosion of violence conditions the whole world.”

War for money

Pope Francis has used the reference in both of his addresses to “popular movements” — grassroots initiatives aimed at bringing people out of poverty. 

Just over a year ago in his address to them in Rome, Pope Francis spoke of this third world war, clarifying that there are “economic systems that must make war to survive.” 

He said that accounts are balanced with the manufacture and sale of arms in economies that “sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money. “

“And no thought is given to hungry children in refugee camps; no thought is given to forced displacements; no thought is given to destroyed homes; no thought is given now to so many destroyed lives. How much suffering, how much destruction, how much grief there is. Today, dear sisters and brothers, the cry for peace rises in all parts of the earth, in all nations.”

When he addressed these movements again in July during his trip to Bolivia, he said: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

No more

Returning from Turkey in December, he made the same point: “It’s a personal opinion, but I’m convinced that we are living a Third World War in pieces, in chapters, everywhere. Behind this there are enmities, political problems, economic problems  — not only, but there are so many, to save this system where the god of money is at the center, and not the human person – and businesses.”

And this year as well, the Holy Father has continued to use the expression.

He spoke of this “third world war being fought piecemeal” when he addressed Armenian faithful on the 100th anniversary of their genocide. And again when he marked in a general audience the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

It’s an expression that frequently comes up on his travels, such as in Sarajevo and in Turin, and again upon arriving in Cuba.

And he’s said it in speaking with youth and with military chaplains.

The expression springs from the heart of a Pope who touches the suffering caused by war, and has on many occasions pleaded, “No more war. Never again war.”

One of his most heartfelt appeals was made after praying the midday Angelus in July of 2014: “Brothers and sisters, no more war! No more war! Above all, I think of the children, those who have been denied hope of a decent life, of a future: dead children, wounded children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have remnants of war as toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Please stop! I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop! Stop, please!”

FORUM: “Allahu akbar” Was Never a Call to Violence and Destruction

“No one can speak for Islam as a whole; it has no commonly regarded

The tragic, violent events of the past days in Beirut and Paris, as well as the recent downing of a Russian plane fill us all with rage, horror and fear and cause many of us to ask: “Is there still space for dialogue with Muslims?” The answer is: yes, now more than ever.

When I returned to Canada in 1994 after having spent the final four years of my graduate studies in Sacred Scripture in Jerusalem, I was certain of one thing: Islam was becoming a growing, global concern and a great pastoral challenge for the Catholic church. Not many people believed me when I shared this with them! Though my biblical studies were at the French Dominican-run Ecole Biblique de Jérusalem and at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, I lived in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Many of my neighbors and friends were Muslims. I learned Arabic, studied the Koran, and delighted in the Middle Eastern hospitality that the Palestinian people offered so graciously.

In my visits and lecturing in the neighboring Arab lands of Palestine, Jordan, the Sinai and Egypt, I was very struck by the image of believers in Allah who, without caring about time or place, fell to their knees in prayer several times each day. I did not see such scenes in the great Christian cathedrals of Europe, which in many cases had become museums for throngs of paying tourists. I learned that Islam has a total organization of life that is completely different from the Catholic one: Islam embraces everything. The Muslim call to prayer: “Allahu akbar” was never meant to be a call to kill, destroy, mame and cause untold havoc and terror.

Those years in the Holy Lands for me included the first Palestinian Intifada and the first Persian Gulf War. I prayed with my Jewish friends at weekly Shabbat services and High Holy Days at the Hebrew Union College and heard vivid stories of poverty, injustice, and anger from my Palestinian friends. I experienced Ramadan with my neighbors, broke the fast with them, heard about “jihad,” the reality of suicide bombers, the growing phenomenon of false martyrdom, and witnessed the tremendous power that Muslim clerics had over their congregations. Some of this was very frightening to discover and witness. 

The recent horrific events in Beirut and Paris, as well as the Russian plane tragedy, and the fallout thereafter have brought back the memories of my Middle Eastern experiences. As a believer in the One God, a Catholic priest, educator and one working in international media, I am convinced now more than ever that dialogue between our religions must combine both an awareness of what we have in common and what profoundly distinguishes our traditions. Islam is not a uniform religion. In fact, there is no single authority for all Muslims, and for this reason dialogue with Islam is always dialogue with various groups. No one can speak for Islam as a whole; it has no commonly regarded orthodoxy. This is not a strength. Muslims believe that the Koran comes directly from God. This makes it difficult for the Koran to be subjected to the same sort of critical analysis and reflection that has taken place among Christians and Jews over the Bible and the New Testament. 

There is a noble Islam, embodied, for example, by the Kings of Morocco and Jordan, and there is also the extremist, terrorist Islam, which we must not identify with Islam as a whole; this would be a grave injustice. ISIS is not Islam. ISIS and any form of terrorism in the name of God is an aberration of religion.  ISIS’ manipulation and distortion of the massive refugee crisis to infiltrate terrorists into other countries is criminal and evil.  ISIS’ reign of terror, immobilizing peoples to act and filling them with fear is evil.  We must distinguish between true religion and the twisted religion used to justify hatred and violence. True religion leads people to healing and peace and desires to make the world a better place. True religion respects the sacredness and dignity of the human person. True religion invites people to respond to crises with mercy, charity and hospitality. 

In August 2005, after meeting with Jews at a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, during the Cologne World Youth Day, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI met with representatives of some Muslim communities. His prophetic words then are important for the world to hear today:

“I am certain that I echo your own thoughts when I bring up one of our concerns as we notice the spread of terrorism. I know that many of you have firmly rejected, also publicly, in particular any connection between your faith and terrorism and have condemned it. I am grateful to you for this, for it contributes to the climate of trust that we need. 

Terrorist activity is continually recurring in various parts of the world, plunging people into grief and despair. Those who instigate and plan these attacks evidently wish to poison our relations and destroy trust, making use of all means, including religion, to oppose every attempt to build a peaceful and serene life together. 

Thanks be to God, we agree on the fact that terrorism of any kind is a perverse and cruel choice which shows contempt for the sacred right to life and undermines the very foundations of all civil coexistence. 

If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancour, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace.

…The task is difficult but not impossible. The believer – and all of us, as Christians and Muslims, are believers – knows that, despite his weakness, he can count on the spiritual power of prayer. 

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for Muslims. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values. 

…The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other’s identity. The defence of religious freedom, in this sense, is a permanent imperative, and respect for minorities is a clear sign of true civilization. In this regard, it is always right to recall what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said about relations with Muslims. 

“The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God…. Although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people” (Declaration Nostra Aetate, n. 3). 

What we are witnessing today are extremists who try to monopolize the religious leadership, whether it is Christians, Jews or Muslims. To kill in the name of religion is not only an offence to God, but it is also a defeat for humanity. No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists’ own blindness and moral perversion. 

Uniting our voice to that of Pope Francis, we say: ‘any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace. The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences’ (Ankara, 28 November 2014)”.

What is the role of religious leadership in this crisis? It must show an equal sense for the dignity of every human being as a child of God, in order to give each one his part in the land of God. Exclusiveness or one-sidedness will harm both sides; it will harm the process of peace, the land itself and the church’s vocation as bearer of salvation for humankind. Authentic religious leadership has to deal with religious extremism, wherever it is and from whomever it comes. Muslim leaders and moderate Muslims need to condemn acts of violence and terror.  

The three communities of Abrahamic faith – Muslims, Christians and Jews -– are witnessing among some adherents the exploitation and manipulation of religion, fostering fanaticism with crude idols shaped by what is evil in ourselves. Jews, Christians and Muslims today venerate Abraham as their common “father of faith” in the one God who blesses all the peoples of the Earth. God does not permit his love for one people to become an injustice to other people. Believers who demand justice, respect and equality for themselves, in the name of God should demand the same for their neighbors. 

In the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris on Friday, in which at least 129 people were killed, and hundreds more seriously wounded, the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, told Vatican Radio that the upcoming Holy Year is a message of mercy to drive out fear.

“In these sad days, in which murderous violence has reared its insane, horrible head, many wonder how to respond. Some people are already asking how to live the experience of these last days of waiting before the opening of the Jubilee [of Mercy]. Be on guard: these murderers, possessed by a senseless hatred, are called ‘terrorists’ precisely because they want to spread terror. If we let ourselves be frightened, they will have already reached their first objective. This, then, is one more reason to resist with determination and courage the temptation to fear. …A message of mercy, that love of God which leads to mutual love and reconciliation. This is precisely the answer we must give in times of temptation to mistrust.”

In today’s world where God is tragically forgotten, Christians and Muslims are called in one spirit of love to defend and always promote human dignity, moral values and freedom. Our common pilgrimage to eternity must be expressed in prayer, fasting and charity, but also in joint efforts for the condemnation or terrorism and violence in the name of God, for peace and justice, for human advancement and the protection of the environment. 

An underlying problem in dealing with Islamic nations is the lack of separation between religion and the state. Part of the dialogue with Islamic religious and political authorities should be aimed at helping to develop such a separation. By walking together on the path of reconciliation and renouncing in humble submission to the divine will any form of violence as a means of resolving differences, these two great world religions will be able to offer a sign of hope, radiating in the world the wisdom and mercy of that one God who created and governs the human family.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB is the English language attaché for the Holy See Press Office and CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

Prelates for 14th Ordinary Council of Synod

12 Elected; 3 Appointed by Pope

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops issued Saturday a complete list of the members of the 14th Ordinary Council, as follows:

Elected members of the Synod of Bishops

– Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, president of the Episcopal Conference of Austria;

– Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa;

– Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras;

– Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, Vatican City;

– Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Vatican City;

– Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Vatican City;

– Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (C.C.B.I.), India.

– Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;

– Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, Great Britain, president of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales;

– Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City;

– Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Philadelphia, United States of America;

– Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy.

Members by papal appointment:

– His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, Iraq;

– Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain;

– Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia, president of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil.

Pope’s Message on Paris Attacks

“This is not human”

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent this telegram on behalf of the Holy Father to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, following the terrorist attacks in the French capital which took place during the night of 13 November.

“Having learned of the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris and at the Stade de France, causing the death of many people and injuring many others, the Holy Father Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of the families affected by this tragedy and the mourning of the French people. He asks that God, the merciful Father, welcome the victims in the peace of His light and offer consolation and hope to the injured and their families. He assures them, and all the members of the emergency services, of his spiritual proximity. Once again the Holy Father vigorously condemns violence, which resolves nothing, and asks God to inspire in all thoughts of peace and solidarity, and to extend to all families at this difficult time, and all the French people, the abundance of His blessings.”

The Catholic television channel Sat 2000, during a special programme on the Paris attacks, made a telephone call to Pope Francis who, when asked about his reaction to the massacre, said: “I am moved, saddened and do not understand, but these things are difficult to comprehend … and so I pray. I am very close to the beloved French people, I am close to the families of the victims, and I pray for all of them.”

In response to the journalist who remarked that the Holy Father has often stated we are experiencing a “piecemeal third world war,” he affirmed, “Yes, and this is one of the pieces. But there are no justifications for these things, … neither religious nor human. This is not human. Therefore, I am close to all those who suffer and to all France, whom I love greatly. Thank you for calling.”

Message of Cardinal Vingt-Trois following the terrorist attacks in Paris:

Our city of Paris, our country, was hit last night with particular savagery and intensity.

After the attacks of last January, after the attack in Beirut this week and many others in these past months, including in Nigeria and other African countries, our country knows anew the pain of grief and must face the barbarism spread by fanatical groups.

This morning I pray, and invite Catholics of Paris to pray, for those who were killed yesterday and for their families, for the injured and their loved ones and for those who are hard at work assisting them, for the police forces who face formidable challenges, and for our leaders and country, so that together we will remain in unity and peace of heart.

I ask the parishes of Paris to comply strictly with the measures issued by public authorities. I ask them to make today and tomorrow days of mourning and prayer.

Sunday evening at 18.30 I will preside at Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris for the victims and their families and for our country; the bell of the cathedral will toll at 18.15. Catholic Television (KTO) will broadcast this Mass, allowing all who wish to join us.

Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred. May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice.

+ Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris

 

Fr. Lombardi’s Statements on Paris

“I would say that the Jubilee of Mercy shows itself even more necessary”

As news of the terrorist attack came in on Friday night, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi issued an initial statement:

“Here in the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace. We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”

On Saturday, he released this statement:

In these sad days, in which murderous violence has reared its insane, horrible head, many wonder how to respond. Some people are already asking how to live the experience of these last days of waiting before the opening of the Jubilee [of Mercy]. Be on guard: these murderers, possessed by a senseless hatred, are called ‘terrorists’ precisely because they want to spread terror. If we let ourselves be frightened, they will have already reached their first objective. This, then, is one more reason to resist with determination and courage the temptation to fear.

It goes without saying that we must be cautious, and not irresponsible: we must take precautions that are reasonable. Nevertheless, we must go on living by building peace and mutual trust. So I would say that the Jubilee of Mercy shows itself even more necessary. A message of mercy, that love of God which leads to mutual love and reconciliation. This is precisely the answer we must give in times of temptation to mistrust.

St. John Paul II said that the message of mercy was the great response of God and of believers in the dark and horrible time of the Second World War, which saw massacres carried out by totalitarian regimes, and the spread of hatred among peoples and persons.

Today, too, when Pope Francis speaks of a third world war being fought piecemeal, there is need for a message of mercy to make us capable of building bridges, and, in spite of everything, to have the courage of love.

This is, therefore, no time to give up the Jubilee, or to be afraid. We need the Jubilee more than ever. We have to live with prudent intelligence, but also with courage and spiritual élan, continuing to look to the future with hope, despite the attacks of hatred. Pope Francis guides us and invites us to trust in the Spirit of the Lord who accompanies us. 

[Translation by Vatican Radio]

Pope’s Address to Jesuit Refugee Service

“Father Arrupe, who had lived through the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima, realized the scope of that tragic exodus of refugees. He saw it as a challenge which the Jesuits could not ignore if they were to remain faithful to their vocation”

On Saturday, Pope Francis addressed the Jesuit Refugee Service. Here is a Vatican translation of the text.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to receive you on this, the thirty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit Refugee Service envisaged by Father Pedro Arrupe, then the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The profound impact made on him by the plight of the South-Vietnamese boat people, exposed to pirate attacks and storms in the South China Sea, was what led him to undertake this initiative.

Father Arrupe, who had lived through the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima, realized the scope of that tragic exodus of refugees. He saw it as a challenge which the Jesuits could not ignore if they were to remain faithful to their vocation. He wanted the Jesuit Refugee Service to meet both the human and the spiritual needs of refugees, not only their immediate need of food and shelter, but also their need to see their human dignity respected, to be listened to and comforted.

The phenomenon of forced migration has dramatically increased in the meantime. Crowds of refugees are leaving different countries of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, to seek refuge in Europe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that there are, worldwide, almost sixty million refugees, the highest number since the Second World War. Behind these statistics are people, each of them with a name, a face, a story, an inalienable dignity which is theirs as a child of God.

At present, you are active in ten different regions, with projects in forty-five countries, through which you provide services to refugees and peoples in internal migrations. A group of Jesuits and women religious work alongside many lay associates and a great number of refugees. In all this time, you have remained faithful to the ideal of Father Arrupe and to the three basic goals of your mission: to accompany, to serve and to defend the rights of refugees.

The decision to be present in areas of greatest need, in conflict and post-conflict zones, has brought you international recognition for your closeness to people and your ability to learn from this how better to serve. I think especially of your groups in Syria, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where you accept men and women of different religious beliefs who share your mission.

The Jesuit Refugee Service works to offer hope and prospects to refugees, mainly through the educational services you provide, which reach large numbers of people and is of particular importance. Offering an education is about much more than dispensing concepts. It is something which provides refugees with the wherewithal to progress beyond survival, to keep alive the flame of hope, to believe in the future and to make plans. To give a child a seat at school is the finest gift you can give. All your projects have this ultimate aim: to help refugees to grow in self-confidence, to realize their highest inherent potential and to be able to defend their rights as individuals and communities.

For children forced to emigrate, schools are places of freedom. In the classroom, they are cared for and protected by their teachers. Sadly, we know that even schools are not spared from attacks instigated by those who sow violence. Yet they are places of sharing, together with children of other cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds; places which follow a set pace and a reassuring discipline, places in which children can once more feel “normal” and where parents can be happy to send them.

Education affords young refugees a way to discover their true calling and to develop their potential. Yet all too many refugee children and young people do not receive a quality education. Access to education is limited, especially for girls and in the case of secondary schools. For this reason, during the approaching Jubilee Year of Mercy, you have set the goal of helping another hundred thousand young refugees to receive schooling. Your initiative of “Global Education”, with its motto “Mercy in Motion”, will help you reach many other students who urgently need an education which can help keep them safe. I am grateful to the group of supporters and benefactors and the international development group of the Jesuit Refugee Service who are with us today. Thanks to their energy and support, the Lord’s mercy will reach any number of children and their families in the future.

As you persevere in this work of providing education for refugees, think of the Holy Family, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and the Child Jesus, who fled to Egypt to escape violence and to find refuge among strangers. Remember too the words of Jesus: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). Take these words with you always, so that they can bring you encouragement and consolation. As for me, I assure you of my prayers. I ask you also, please, do not forget to pray for me.

[And I cannot end this meeting, these words, without presenting an icon to you: the “swan song” of Father Arrupe, in fact in a center for refugees. He asked for prayer, not to leave off prayer. And precisely with this request and with his presence there, in that center for refugees in Asia, he did not realize that in that moment he was taking his leave: they were his last words, his last gesture. It was in fact the last legacy he left the Society. Arriving in Rome, he was crippled by a stroke, which made him suffer for so many years. May this icon accompany you: the icon of a good man, who not only created this service, but one to whom the Lord gave the joy of taking his leave when speaking in a center for refugees. May the Lord bless you.] [Translation of bracketed text by ZENIT] 

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